Sunday, June 1, 2008

Choosing a Church, Love and Doctrines

The clarity of a view on a given doctrinal subject is a valid consideration in selecting a church. No doctrine is more important to evangelical theology than the doctrine of justification by faith alone—the Reformation principle of sola fide. Martin Luther was used by God to develop, what theologians call "soteriology" the doctrine of salvation. He was a "soteriologist" and the truth of the matter is that the Reformation was a soeteriological reformation, that never touched the field of ecclesiology (the doctrine of the Church).

Martin Luther called it the article that determines whether the church is standing or falling. No one person is the repository of all divine truth and that all of us are made, to some extent, incapacitated because of our humanness. Paul wrote, "No man can lay a foundation other than the one which is laid, which is Jesus Christ" (1 Corinthians 3:11). Christ Himself embodied or established every doctrine that is essential to genuine Christianity. The hardest thing in Bible study is to divorce myself from all my presuppositions and take every text purely on its own merit.

We have to remember that its not the scriptures that are corrupted. Its a man's heart that is corrupted. Intelligence, reason, and choice. Studying the scriptures requires the Holy Spirit which is inward, not outward. The Holy Spirit is within us believers, Christ dwells in our hearts, and "Christ in you, the hope of glory" (Colossians 1:27) is the burning core of the Christian faith.

Two-way relationship with God requires our submission, obedience and love to Him. The WORD is Jesus Christ. God's Word (the Bible) sometimes wounds us deeply and it is imperative because through the Bible, God speaks loudly. The Bible illumines the dark corners of heart and mind by exposing sin but reveals the way of rightousness. The Word of God (Bible) rebukes in order that we may see our faults. When a Christian who is saved by the conviction of the Holy Spirit, this Christian is living in a new Creature with holy conscience rather than sinful conscience. If we didn't feel the conviction and didn't have the motivation to change from "within", then we should be concerned whether we are truly saved or not. "If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit." The condition of the heart determines how receptive a person is to the gospel. The Holy Spirit is the key. Faith comes as a result of the regenerating work of the Holy Spirit-He quickens our hearts to believe. Apart from the new birth, there can be no true faith. Without the Holy Spirit, our faith and our works are NOTHING.

We can fake other people but we can't fake to God. It is important to understand that our hearts are the state of our "flesh". Our flesh search for pleasure, pride, passions and selfish motives. Our hearts are like a garden with beautiful flowers and plants. As with all gardens, the hearts must be kept free from weeds and insects. God is not impressed by our works or how we worship. In 1. Samuel 16:7, The Lord said to Samuel, "Don't judge by his appearance or height, for I have rejected him. The Lord don't make decisions the way you do. People judge by outward appearance (i.e. works), but the Lord looks at a person's thoughts and intentions (heart)."

When we argue and disagree, we will know what kind of a Christian others are and what kind of a heart they have. We always argue over things that we love, or that we disagree. If a Christian is not careful and forget. 2 Timothy 3:16 All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. In order to "revere" the Word of God (Bible), we are to submit to the Holy Spirit who is the Author of the Bible. Jesus said in John 6:63 The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you are spirit and they are life. Everyone is different. Some may consider one extreme and the other is not while another person is the opposite. We are not to persuade people to follow certain extremist views of doctrines because only God can take care of that based on each individual as the Holy Spirit convicts their hearts. Practicing charity (love) is a toughie depending on someone's view from where they are sitting/experiencing.

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